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Subnational population projections

For detailed projections see:

Statistics NZ produces population projections for many subnational areas. The latest projections in February 2017 covered the 16 regional council areas, 67 territorial authority areas, and 21 Auckland local board areas (boundaries at 1 January 2017). Three alternative projections (low, medium, and high) are produced for each area using different fertility, mortality, and migration assumptions. The assumptions reflect an area's unique socio-demographic characteristics.

These results are based on the medium projection.

Population growth

Of New Zealand's 67 TA areas, 59 are projected to have more people in 2028 than in 2013, and 50 are projected to have more people in 2043 than in 2013 (medium projection). The highest projected population growth rates over the 30-year period (2013–43) are for Selwyn (an average annual increase of 2.6 percent) and Queenstown-Lakes districts (2.2 percent). Population growth in Waimakariri district (1.6 percent), Auckland (1.5 percent), Waikato district, Tauranga and Hamilton cities (all 1.4 percent), and Waipa district (1.0 percent) are also higher than the national average (1.0 percent). 

Under the medium projection, the largest percentage decreases in population between 2013 and 2043 are projected for Ruapehu (down an average of 1.1 percent a year), Wairoa, Opotiki (both 0.9 percent), and Kawerau districts (0.8 percent). The decreases in these four areas reflect shrinking natural increase and continuing net migration outflows, although these outflows are assumed to be smaller than experienced historically.

Drivers of growth

The projected slower population growth across New Zealand is driven by the narrowing gap between births and deaths. Nationally, natural increase is projected to decrease from 164,000 during 2009–13 to 78,000 during 2039–43 (medium projection). This is due to more deaths, up from 147,000 during the five years to 2013 to reach 238,000 in the five years ending 2043. 

In 49 of the 67 TA areas, the number of births is expected to drop between 2009–13 and 2039–43, due to the assumed slightly lower fertility rates (average number of births per woman), combined in many areas with fewer women in the childbearing ages.

In contrast, the number of deaths is expected to increase in all areas, despite continued increases in life expectancy. This is because more people are reaching older ages. In 2016, about 3 deaths in 4 occurred at age 65 years and over. The proportion of New Zealand's population aged 65+ is projected to increase from 14 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2043.

Auckland region

The Auckland region is projected to account for more than half New Zealand's population growth between 2013 and 2043, with an increase of 833,000 – from just under 1.5 million to over 2.3 million (medium projection). Auckland's population is estimated to have passed 1.5 million in the year ended June 2014, and is projected to reach 2 million by 2033. In 2028, Auckland would be home to 37 percent of New Zealand's population, compared with 34 percent in 2013. By 2043, Auckland's population could be 39 percent of New Zealand's population.

Auckland local board areas

Within the 21 ALBAs, 16 are projected to grow at a faster rate than the national average (1.0 percent a year) over the 30-year period (2013–43). The fastest growing ALBAs include Waitemata, Upper Harbour (both 2.6 percent), Rodney (2.1 percent), Franklin, and Papakura (both 2.0 percent). However, population growth will generally slow for ALBAs over the projection period.

Under the medium projection, all ALBAs are projected to have more people in 2043 than in 2013. In 2013, Howick and Henderson-Massey were the only ALBAs with a population over 100,000. Three more areas (Hibiscus and Bays, Waitemata, and Albert-Eden) will have population over 100,000 by 2018 and over half the ALBAs will by 2033.

Ageing population

The population of all TA areas is expected to age in future, both in number and percentage of people at older ages. However, there will be considerable variation, largely because of each area's current population age structure and different fertility and migration patterns. 

At the national level, the median age (half the population is younger, and half older, than this age) is projected to increase from 37 years in 2013 to 43 years in 2043. In 2013, of the 67 TA areas, the median age ranged from 32 years in Hamilton city to 51 years in Thames-Coromandel district. By 2043, the median age is projected to range from 37 years in Palmerston North city to 60 years in Thames-Coromandel district. A median age of 50 years or older is projected for 12 TA areas in 2043: Kaipara, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Central Hawke's Bay, Horowhenua, Kapiti Coast, South Wairarapa, Tasman, Marlborough, Timaru, and Central Otago districts, and Nelson city.

The oldest median ages are generally in areas experiencing low fertility and/or a net outflow of young adults (aged 15–29 years) and a net inflow of people aged 35–74 years. The youngest median ages are generally in areas experiencing high fertility and/or a net inflow of young adults (such as cities with major tertiary education facilities).

Page updated 8 March 2017

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